Sunday 18 November 2018

Jerabo Commander Chile One Jailed Five Years

Chile One in black shirt
By Paul Shalala

The Kitwe High Court has sent prominent Jerabo Commander Richard Chileshe, who is popularly known as Chile One, to jail for five years after he lost his appeal in his copper theft case.

Chile One, who was convicted by the Kitwe Magistrate’s Court with two others in 2016, appealed the five year sentence in the Kitwe High Court.

Jerabos are illegal miners who have in the recent past been trabsformed into small scale miners after their work was legalized by the Ministry of Mines.

Chile One happens to be among the top few leaders known as commanders who own huge tipper trucks and employ dozens of youths who work for them at the copper rich dumpsite called Black Mountain in Kitwe.

With this decision by the High Court, he is now a convict, serving a five year jail term at the Kamfinsa Correctional Facility in Kitwe.

Chile One, together with John Mapoma and Danny Ngosa, are alleged to have stolen 30 copper blisters valued at K1.7 million, the property of Chambeshi Copper Smelter.

After being stolen, the copper blisters were buried at Chile One’s garage.

After their conviction in 2016, the three decided to appeal the matter in the Kitwe High Court on four grounds.

However, on Friday, Livingstone High Court Judge-In-Charge Chilombo Maka-Phiri sitting in Kitwe, dismissed all the grounds of appeal.

Justice Phiri said the appeal had no merit and she upheld the five year sentence slapped on the three by the lower court.

She added that the appellants would serve the five year sentence effective Friday.

After the ruling, Chile One and Ngosa were immediately led to a holding cell, en route to the Kamfinsa Correctional Facility.

The judge later issued a bench warrant for Mapoma who wasn’t in the court room.

Monday 12 November 2018

Conservationist Replants Mukula Trees in Muchinga Province

Mr Simwanza inspecting his nursery
By Paul Shalala in Mafinga

The Mukula tree is an indigenous tree in many parts of the country.

The tree, whose scientific name is Pterocarpus Chrysothrix, grows in people’s backyards and in most cases, villagers do not realize its potential.

It is a tree which has been growing in Zambia for thousands of years.

But its importance has only been discovered now after the influx of the Chinese.

This has led to its indiscriminate cutting and the increase in illegal exports.

The fear now is that the tree maybe wiped out.

And now, a conservationist in Mafinga District of Muchinga Province has started a plantation of 20 thousand Mukula nursery for future use.
Mr Steven Simwanza, who is a manager at a lodge in Mafinga, started a nursery for Mukula trees last year.

“We started this nursery last year and so far, we have sent 17,000 trees to Lusaka and here we have more than 2,500 trees. We want to conserve this tree and preserve it for the future,” said Mr Simwanza.

A check at the nursery found that a number of trees had dried up while a large number of them are growing well.

“It takes 50 to 60 years for a Mukula tree to grow and be marketable but even at this tender age, they can be sold.”
The author posing with a Mukula tree

And Government has authorized Mr Simwanza to expand his nursery to ensure that more indigenous trees are replanted.

“We are promoting the replanting of indigenous trees. We do not want them to be extinct that is why we authorized this nursery and we are encouraging more people to start replanting these trees,” said Mafinga District Forestry officer Kennedy Banda.

In the past few months, the Zambian government has deployed soldiers from the Zambia Army in strategic places to stop the illegal sale of Mukula trees.

Soldiers mount check points 24 hours a day on major high ways to stop the transportation of Mukula, a tree which fetches millions of dollars on the international market.

According to industry experts, all parts of the Mukula tree are lucrative.

Asians use its back, the stem and leaves for various use such as furniture and medicine.

In Zambia, trading in Mukula is illegal but those who have been caught transporting it have had the trees confiscated and their motor vehicles forfeited to the state.

The Zambia Forest and Forestry Industry Corporation (ZAFFICO) has been selling confiscated Mukula trees in the far east on behalf of the Zambian government.

Last week, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata disclosed in Parliament that ZAFFICO had so far raised $4.3 million from the sale of illegally harvested Mukula logs in China.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Climate Change Reduces Honey Production In Muchinga

By Paul Shalala in Mafinga
Mr Nyondo displaying little honey he has harvested

Beekeepers in Muchinga Province are likely to make loses this year due to the adverse effects of climate change which has made bees eat their own honey.

In Mafinga and Isoka Districts, beekeepers have told this blogger that due to the unexpected strong winds and high temperatures, bees have stopped coming out of the hives and are eating their own produce.

This is a huge drawback for some residents whose main occupation is beekeeping.

With its dense woodlands, Muchinga Province is a perfect place for beekeepers to conduct their business.

In Mafinga District alone, 45 farmers are full time honey producers.

These farmers were first trained in honey production by the Department of Forestry in 2005 and they have been keeping bees for business for 13 years now.

Every year, they harvest honey and make money.

But this year, business is hard.

“We are making losses this year due to winds and high temperature. The bees are not coming out and this will lead us to losses. Because they are not coming out, they are eating the honey inside the hives,” said Lenwick Nyondo, the Chairperson of the Muleya Beekeepers Association in Mafinga District.

Mr Nyondo says the change inweather will affect his earnings this year.

“In a typical year, I make between K10,000 and K20,000 but this year, we may be down to K5,000,” he added.

For authorities, the effects of climate change on this lucrative business is very worrying.

“From my frequent tours in the district, beekeepers are complaining of climate change. The weather has really affected them. But we are hopeful that maybe next year the farmers can have better business than this year,” said Kennedy Banda, the District Forestry Officer for Mafinga.

Apart from Mafinga, Isoka is another district in Muchinga Province which has been affected by climate change.

Here too, beekeepers are crying of reduced yields due to high temperatures and wind.

For a number of honey producers, honey badgers have also brought down their hives, dealing a big blow to their business.

At Mr Nyondo’s farm, two hives were spotted on the ground after they were attacked by honey badgers which are common in the area.

Beekeeping is a relatively new business in Muchinga Province.

In Zambia, the North Western Province leads in the production of honey due to its unending woodlands and favourable climate.